Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Fairy pitta

Pitta nympha

(Photo from Best Bird Photos)

Common name:
fairy pitta (en); pita-ninfa (pt); brève migratice (fr); pita ninfa (es); nymphenpitta (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pittidae

Range:
This Asian species breeds in Japan, South Korea, south-eastern China and Taiwan and migrates south to winter in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

Size:
Faity pittas are 16-19,5 cm long and weigh 90 g.

Habitat:
These birds are mostly found breeding in evergreen broad-leaved forests, and sometimes in mixed conifer and broad-leaved forests. They may also be found in plantations, scrublands and along rivers and streams. Outside the breeding season they tend to prefer tropical and sub-tropical moist forests, but are also found in dry forests and along rivers and streams.

Diet:
Faity pittas forage among the leaf litter on the forest floor, taking beetles and ants, caterpillars, earthworms, centipedes and snails. They are also known to occasionally eat small crabs and even small frogs, snakes and lizards.

Breeding:
These birds are monogamous and territorial, breeding in May-July. They build an oven-shaped nest, either on the ground in the tree up to 5 m above the ground, using leaves and moss and lining the interior with pine needles. There the female lays 3-7 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a very large breeding range, but the population is currently estimated at just 2.500-10.000 individuals. A number of pressures within the species range are driving habitat loss and conversion. As a result the species is suspected to be declining rapidly. The key threat is the extensive lowland deforestation in its breeding range, particularly in China where most forest have been cleared or modified through conversion to agricultural land and logging for timber. Uncontrolled fires have further reduced remaining forest cover. Human disturbance, hunting and trapping for the cage-bird trade are other significant threats.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Swallow-tailed puffbird

Chelidoptera tenebrosa

Photo by Tomas Grim (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Galbuliformes
Family Bucconidae

Range:
This South American species is found in most of Brazil and throughout the Amazon basin stretching into Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, the Guyanas, Suriname, Peru and Venezuela.

Size:
These birds are 14-16 cm long and weigh 40-50 g.

Habitat:
Swallow-tailed puffbirds are mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical moist forests, but also occur in swamp forests, heavily degraded former forests, dry and moist savannas and scrublands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.750 m.

Diet:
These birds are insectivorous, catching slow flying insects, like winged ants, on the wing.

Breeding:
Swallow-tailed puffbirds mostly breed in July-March. They excavate a deep tunnel, up to 1,5 m long, in sandy soil. At the bottom of this tunnels lies the incubation chamber which is lined with dry grasses and leaves. There the female lays 1-2 shiny white eggs which are incubated for 14-15 days. The chicks fledge 15 days after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and, although he global population size has not been quantified, the swallow-winged puffbird is described as common. The population is suspected to be increasing as ongoing habitat degradation is creating new areas of suitable habitat. It is reported to be abundant along the Trans-Amazonian Highway.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Green imperial-pigeon

Ducula aenea

Photo by Sydhir Shivaram (The Jungle Book)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is found in southern Asia, from India, through Bangladesh and Indochina, and into Indonesia and the Philippines.

Size:
The green imperial-pigeon is 38-45 cm long and weighs 450-550 g.

Habitat:
They are found in both primary and secondary forests, mangroves and also open country with scattered trees. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

Diet:
They feed on fruits and other plant material collected in the tree canopy.

Breeding:
The breeding season of the green imperial-pigeon varies according to the location, but generally takes place during the summer, at the beginning of the rainy season. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a flimsy platform made with interwoven twigs, placed in small tree up to 10 mm above the ground. there the female lays 1-2 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 20 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be widespread and common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Silvereye

Zosterops lateralis

Photo by J.J. Harrison (Wikipedia)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Zosteropidae

Range:
These birds are found in eastern and southern Australia, in New Zealand, and in the south-west Pacific islands of Lord Howe, New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji.

Size:
They are 10-12 cm long and weigh 11-13 g.

Habitat:
Silvereyes are found in almost any wooded habitats within their range, generally favouring commercial orchards and urban parks and gardens. They may also be found in dry scrublands and grasslands and are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.850 m.

Diet:
They feed on fruits and berries, nectar and various invertebrates including aphids and scale insects.

Breeding:
Silvereyes breed in August-February. Both sexes build the nest, a small, neatly woven cup of grasses, hair, and other fine vegetation, bound with spider web. The nest is placed in a horizontal tree fork up to 5 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 bluish-green eggs which are incubated by both parents for 11-12 days. The chicks are fed and cared for by both parents and fledge 14-16 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 3-4 weeks later. Each pair may raise 1-3 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wild turkey

Meleagris gallopavo

(Photo from Wikipedia)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Meleagrididae

Range:
The wild turkey originates from the eastern United States, southern Canada, and Mexico, but currently occurs throughout most of North America. They have also been introduced to Hawaii, New Zealand and Germany. The Mexican subspecies M.g. gallopavo originated the domestic turkey which is kept as a farm animal throughout the world.

Size:
These large birds are 110-115 cm long and have a wingspan of 125-144 cm. Males are considerably larger than females. They weigh 6,8-11 kg while females weigh just 3,6-5,4 kg.

Habitat:
Wild turkeys prefer broad-leaved and mixed conifer and broad-leaved forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards and seasonal marshes. They can also be found in swamps, mesquite grasslands and chaparral.

Diet:
These birds have a very diverse diet, eating fruits, seeds, acorns, nuts, tubers, bulbs, and greens of locally common plants, but also animals such as snails, spiders, millipedes, grasshoppers and salamanders.

Breeding:
Wild turkeys breed in March-June. The female scratches out the nest, a shallow depression in dead leaves or vegetation on the ground, surrounded by dense brush, vines, tangles, deep grass, or fallen tree tops. There she lays 4-17 tan or buff white eggs with reddish spots, which she incubates alone for 25-31 days. The precocial chicks leave the nest within 12-24 h of hatching and are able to feed themselves, but the female will brood them at night for the next 2 weeks and will defend them from predators. The young only become fully independent 4-10 months after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1,3 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase over the last 40 years, equating to a 270% increase per decade.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Bat hawk

Macheiramphus alcinus

Photo by Gary Albert (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This species is found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia and south through the D.R. Congo, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola down to South Africa. It is also found in south-east Asia, in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Size:
The bat hawk is 41-51 cm long and has a wingspan of 95-120 cm. They weigh 600-650 g.

Habitat:
They are found in a wide range of habitats, wherever there are large numbers of bats, from tropical forest to open areas near caves. They are even found in disturbed forests, agricultural areas and in urban parks and gardens.

Diet:
Bat hawks hunt on the wing, generally around dusk, and occasionally at dawn. They mostly eat bats, namely Miniopterus, Pipistrellus, Eptesicus, Neoromicia, Scotophilus, Nycticeius, Nycteris, Rhinolophus, Hipposideros, Eidolon and Epomophorus. They will also take insects and small birds including swallows, swiftlets, nightjars, doves, pigeons, cuckoos, starlings, waxbills, bishops and warblers.

Breeding:
These monogamous, territorial solitary nesters breed in April-January. The large stick nest is built high up in a pale-barked tree, which probably makes it easier to locate at night. There the female lays 1-2 bright green, blue or violet eggs, which she incubates alone for 51-53 days. The chicks fledge 67-70 days after hatching but only become fully independent 2-3 months later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as uncommon. Although there is some evidence for localized population declines caused by habitat destruction and direct persecution, its overall population appears to be stable.

Friday, 25 November 2011

White-banded tanager

Neothraupis fasciata
(Photo from Tropical Birding)

Common name:
white-banded tanager (en); cigarra-do-campo (pt); tangara unifascié (fr); frutero de banda blanca (es); flügelbindentangare (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This South American species is found in eastern Bolivia, north-eastern Paraguay and in southern and eastern Brazil from southern Maranhão and Piauí south to Minas Gerais and northern São Paulo, and west to southern Mato Grosso.

Size:
The white-banded tanager is 16 cm long and weighs 29-32 g.

Habitat:
These birds are endemic to the cerrado biome, being found in dense woodlands and scrublands, but also in savannas and disturbed areas.

Diet:
The white-banded tanager is omnivorous, eating both arthropods and fruits. They are known to take ants, termites, mantises, caterpillars, butterflies, crickets and grasshoppers, as well as the fruits of Araliaceae, Melastomataceae, Ochnaceae and Rubiaceae.

Breeding:
These birds breed in August-November. They build a deep, cup-shaped nest made of grasses, and placed in a small tree or bush up to 1m above the ground. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both parents, and sometimes by birds from earlier broods, for 12-14 days. The chicks fledge 9-13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. However, the population is declining at a slow to moderate rate, owing to continuing degradation and loss of suitable habitats within the range. Conversion to soybeans, exportable crops and Eucalyptus plantations has severely impacted cerrado habitats, with grasslands in Paraguay additionally threatened by extensive cattle-ranching.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Chestnut bunting

Emberiza rutila

Photo by Tim Edelsten (Birds Korea)


Common name:
chestnut bunting (en); escrevedeira-ferrugínea (pt); bruant roux (fr); semillerito castaño (es); rötelammer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
The chestnut bunting is found in eastern Asia, breeding in Siberia, northern Mongolia and north-eastern China, and migrating south to winter in in southern China, Indochina and Burma.

Size:
These birds are 14-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 21-23 cm. They weigh 15-19 g.

Habitat:
They breed in temperate and boreal broad-leaved forests dominated by larch, alder and birch, apparently favouring are of open forest with rich ground-cover of herbaceous plants, and dense grass. During migration and winter they use a wide range of habitats including mountain slopes and lake shores, agricultural fields,gardens near villages, rice stubbles, scrublands and forest clearings.

Diet:
Chestnut buntings feed mostly on seeds, but will also hunt insects during the breeding season.

Breeding:
These birds breed on the ground, in an open cup made of twigs, rootlets and other plant materials. there the female lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 10-14 days. The chicks are reared by both parents and fledge 10-15 after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as locally fairly common or common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cardinal woodpecker

Dendropicos fuscescens

(Photo from Internet Bird Collection)


Common name:
cardinal woodpecker (en); pica-pau-cardeal (pt); pic cardinal (fr); pito cardenal (es); kardinalspecht (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

Range:
This African species is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, excluding dense equatorial lowland forest, all the way to South Africa.

Size:
Cardinal woodpeckers are 14-15 cm long and weigh 28-32 g.

Habitat:
They are found in a wide range of habitats, from dense moist and dry forests, to savannas, scrublands, inland wetlands and also agricultural areas, gardens and urban areas.

Diet:
They mostly glean ants and termites from the bark and leaves of trees, but will also eat beetles, caterpillars, wasps and spiders, and even seed pods and fruits.

Breeding:
Cardinal woodpeckers breed in July-December. Both sexes excavate the nest, which is usually a hole in the underside of a tree branch, although nesting in wooden fence posts has also been recorded. There the female lays 1-3 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 12-13 days. The chicks are cared for by both parents and fledge 27 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 1-2 months later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is reported to be common and widespread in most of this range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Black-cheeked gnateater

Conopophaga melanops

Photo by Luis Florit (Luis Adrián Florit's Home Page)


Common name:
black-cheeked gnateater (en); cuspidor-de-máscara-preta (pt); conopophage à joues noire (fr); jejenero carinegro (es); rotscheitel-mückenfresser (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Conopophagidae

Range:
This South American species is endemic to the Atlantic forest habitats along the coast of Brazil, from Paraíba to Santa Catarina.

Size:
These birds are 11-12 cm long and weigh 20 g.

Habitat:
The black-cheeked gnateater is mostly found in the understory of tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, but may also be present in rivers and streams, dry forests and even in urban areas.

Diet:
These birds eat various types of insects, including grasshoppers, walking sticks and caterpillars, collected from the leaf litter of the forest ground.

Breeding:
Black-cheeked gnateaters are monogamous and territorial, breeding in October-January. They build an open nest cup made of plant debris and dry leaves, lined with pant down. The nest is placed in the understory, near the ground. There the female lays 2 salmon coloured eggs with dark spots, which are incubated by both parents for 12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
These birds have a relativelly large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as uncommon. This population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Brown gerygone

Gerygone mouki

Photo by David Cook (Flickr)


Common name:
brown gerygone (en); gerígono-castanho (pt); gérygone brune (fr); gerigón pardo (es); grauwangengerygone (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Acanthizidae

Range:
The brown gerygone is endemic to the eastern coast of Australia, from Queensland down to southern New South Wales.

Size:
These birds are 9-11 cm long and weigh just 5-6 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in dense coastal rainforests, but also in mangroves, moist scrublands and dry forests.

Diet:
Brown gerygones are insectivorous,taking various small insects.

Breeding:
These birds breed in September-February. The nest is an hanging dome made of bark fibre, roots, webs, moss and lichens, lined with feathers and plant down. It is place in a tree, 2-5 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-3 creamy eggs with brown specks, which are incubated for 12-14 days. The chicks fledge 14-21 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The brown gerygone has a relatively large breeding range and is reported to be locally fairly common in the northern parts of its range though often scarce towards the south. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Tawny owl

Strix aluco

(Photo from IVN Vecht & Plassengebied)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
This species is found throughout continental Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to southern Scandinavia. It is also found in Great Britain. It also occurs in Asian Russia and across Iran and the Himalayas all the way to southern China.

Size:
Tawny owls are 41-46 cm long and have a wingspan of 90-105 cm. They weigh 400-800 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in broad-leaved or mixed woodland, but will also inhabit trees in hedgerows, parkland, churchyards, farmland, and coniferous forests. In winter it may take shelter in disused buildings and rock cavities.

Diet:
Tawny Owls hunt almost entirely at night, usually waiting quietly on a perch, watching and listening until they drop on their prey. They take a wide variety of prey, mostly rabbits, moles, mice, shrews, voles, and other rodents, but also earthworms, insects, birds, frogs, fish, lizards, molluscs and crustaceans.

Breeding:
These birds breed in March-July. They nest in a natural hole or a nest box in a tree, but occasionally nests have been found on ledges of old buildings and in chimneys. There the female lays 2-6 pure white eggs, which she incubates alone for 28-29 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 28-37 days after hatching, but remain dependent on their parents for food up to 3 months after leaving the nest.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Tawny owls have an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 2-6 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Orange-breasted sunbird

Anthobaphes violacea

Photo by Chris Perkins (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
orange-breasted sunbird (en); beija-flor-de-peito-laranja (pt); souïmanga orangé (fr); suimanga pechinaranja (es); goldbrust-nektarvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Nectarinidae

Range:
This species is endemic to South Africa, only being found in the fynbos biome of the Western and Eastern Cape regions.

Size:
Orange-breasted sunbirds are 12-15 cm long and weigh 9-10 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in fynbos habitats, generally preferring dense stands of Protea and Erica. They also occur in coastal scrublands and occasionally gardens, provided that there are enough nectar producing plants such as Aloe.

Diet:
Orange-breasted sunbirds mostly eat nectar of plants like Protea, Erica, Leonotis, Mimetes, Aloe, mountain dahlia Liparia spherica, pyjama bush Lobostemon fructicosus, cape-honeysuckle Tecoma capensis, wild lobelia Lobelia pinifolia, bugle lily Watsonia tabularis, Agapanthus and alien species like Hedera helix and Eucalyptus. They also complement their diet with invertebrates, including beetles, wasps, ants, bees, flies, crickets, locusts, grasshoppers, roaches, spiders and midges.

Breeding:
These birds breed can breed all year round, but tend to peak in April-September. They are monagomous and solitary nesters, with the nest being built solely by the female, consisting of a sturdy oval with a circular side entrance, built of dry twiglets, heather and soft plant material bound together with spider web. It is typically placed facing south or south-east, to avoid prevailing wind and rain, in a bush, scrub or tree, especially Protea and Erica. There the female lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates alone for 13-16 days. Both sexes feed the chicks which fledge 14-22 days after hatching, but continue to depend on their parents for another 3-4 weeks. Each pair may raise 2-3 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively small breeding range, but is described as common. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, but is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Brown-eared bulbul

Ixos amaurotis

Photo by peter de Haas (Bird Forum)


Common name:
brown-eared bulbul (en); tuta-de-faces-castanhas (pt); bulbul à oreillons bruns (fr); bulbul de orejas castañas (es); orpheusbülbül (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pycnonotidae

Range:
This Asian species is found from the Russian Far East, through north-eastern China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, and south to Taiwan and the Babuyan and Batanes island chains in the north of the Philippines.

Size:
These birds are 28 cm long and weigh 30-35 g.

Habitat:
Brown-eared bulbuls are mostly found in tropical and subtropical moist forests, but also in arable land, rural gardens and urban areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.100 m.

Diet:
Their diet includes insects, seeds, blossom, fruit, berries, and leafy vegetables.

Breeding:
Brown-eared bulbuls are monogamous. They build a cup-shaped nest in the lower branches of a tree, where the female lays 4-5 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 11-14 days and the chicks fledge 12-16 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, it is described as generally abundant throughout Japan, locally common in South Korea, uncommon in Taiwan and common in the Philippines and China. The population is estimated to be increasing following a range expansion into urban areas in Japan during recent decades.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Rufous hummingbird

Selasphorus rufus

Photo by Nan Moore (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
rufous hummingbird (en); beija-flor-ruivo (pt); colibri roux (fr); colibrí rufo (es); rotrücken-zimtelfe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This North American species breeds in southern Alaska, along the pacific coast of Canada and in the north-western United States. They migrate south along the Pacific coast of North America to winter in southern Mexico.

Size:
This small hummingbird is 7-9 cm long and has a wingspan of 11 cm. They weigh 2-5 g.

Habitat:
During the breeding season they are found in open or scrubby areas, forest openings, yards, and parks, and sometimes in coniferous forests, thickets, swamps, and meadows, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m. They winter in oak, pine, and juniper woods, scrublands and thorn forest, coastal areas and mountain meadows, from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Diet:
Rufous hummingbirds mostly feed on the nectar of colourful, tubular flowers including columbine, scarlet gilia, penstemon, Indian paintbrush, mints, lilies, fireweeds, larkspurs, currants, and heaths. They also eat insects, particularly gnats, midges, flies taken from the air, and aphids taken from plants.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-July. The female builds the cup-shaped nest alone, using soft plant down held together with spider web. She camouflages the outside with lichen, moss, and bark. There she lays 2-3 white eggs which she incubates alone for 15-17 days. The male guards the nest and helps raise the chicks, which fledge 15-19 days after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 7 million individuals. This species has undergone a small decline of 1-2% per year over the last few decades, but is overall not considered threatened at present.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tahiti monarch

Pomarea nigra

(Photo from Birdlife)


Common name:
Tahiti monarch (en); monarca-do-Taiti (pt); monarque de Tahiti (fr); monarca de Tahiti (es); Tahitimonarch (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Monarchidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Tahiti, in French Polynesia. Even within the island it is restricted to just 4 lowland valleys.

Size:
The Tahiti monarch is 15 cm long and weighs 25 g.

Habitat:
They are found in tropical and subtropical forests dominated by mara Neonauclea forsteri, being present at altitudes of 80-400 m.

Diet:
They forage both in the canopy and the undergrowth of the forests, taking various insects.

Breeding:
Tahiti monarchs breed in October-February. They build a a cup-shaped nest made of moss and decorated with cobwebs, where the female lays a single egg. The egg is incubated for 15–17 days and the chicks fledge 3 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically Endangered)
This species has an extremely restricted breeding range and a global population of just 35-50 birds. Since 2004, the species has shown signs of recovery, with new pairs becoming established in abandoned territories, mostly thanks to the conservation measures that were put in place. The main threats to this species are the decline in habitat quality caused by the spread of invasive plant species, such as the African tulip tree Spathodea campanulata, but also the predation by introduced black rats Rattus rattus, and goat grazing is leading to habitat degradation in some areas. Predation by cats and swamp harrier Circus approximans and competition with other passerines may also have a negative impact on this species. Rat control around nests, using poison and tree bands, as well as some control of invasive plant species has had some success in preserving this species.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Yellow-tailed oriole

Icterus mesomelas

Photo by Bill Lynch (Neotropical Birds)

Common name:
yellow-tailed oriole (en); corrupião-de-cauda-amarela (pt); oriole à queue jaune (fr); turpial de cola amarilla (es); gelbschwanztrupial (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

Range:
These birds are found from southern Mexico down to western Peru and north-western Venezuela.

Size:
Yellow-tailed orioles are 20-24 cm long and weigh around 70 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in tropical lowland areas, generally in woodlands, forest clearings and scrublands. They are also common in agricultural areas, namely Heliconia stands, Manila hemp, and banana plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 500 m.

Diet:
Yellow-tailed orioles mostly eat insects and spiders, but will also consume nectar and certain fruits such as gumbo-limbo Bursera simaruba.

Breeding:
They breed in April-November. The female builds a deep, basket-shaped nest made of plant fibres, which hangs from a thorny scrub about to 2 m above the ground. There she lays 2-3 light blue eggs with brown spots, which are incubated for 14 days. The chicks fledge 13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The yellow-tailed oriole has a large breeding range and a global population of 500.000-5.000.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Egyptian plover

Pluvianus aegyptius

Photo by Terje Kolaas (Naturspesialisten)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Glareolidae

Range:
This African species is found from Mauritania and southern Sudan, down to Uganda and Angola. The Egyptian plover also occurred in Egypt in the past, but became extinct there during the 20th century.

Size:
These birds are 19-21 cm long and have a wingspan of 23-25 cm. They weigh 80-90 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in large lowland tropical rivers with sandbars and gravel, but also occur around human settlements near rivers and may occasionally use other wetland habitats like lakes or ponds.

Diet:
Egyptian plovers eat aquatic and terrestrial insects, worms, molluscs and sometimes seeds.

Breeding:
These birds breed in January-May. They breed in solitary pairs, nesting in a deep scrape on sand or gravel, where the female lays 2-3 eggs which are not incubated in the normal sense, but rather kept buried in the warm sand, and cooled by the adults sitting above them and periodically wetting the sand. The eggs hatch after 28-31 days and the chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, remaining with their parents until fledging, 4-5 weeks later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The Egyptian plover has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 22.000-85.000 individuals. The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends, and the may threat affecting the species are habitat changes resulting from the damming of rivers.